The Importance of a Soil Test Prior to Purchasing Land

If you’re purchasing a block of land then you are obviously doing so with the intent of in the future you will be building a structure on it. With this very thought it is important you seek a soil test prior to purchasing the land and make it a condition of the purchase contract.

Believe it or not but the soil is the most important but neglected thought when purchasing a block of land. So, why do I need a Soil Test you ask…

Soil tests reveal what the eye sometimes cannot. It helps to determine varying physical and chemical characteristics of the soil which can change considerably within a small area. The soil test helps to determine the bearing capacity of the soil and the rate of settlement of the soil which in turn provides your Builder with the information needed for a suitable construction technique and the type and depth of the foundations required. Depending on the results, it could have a huge impact on your overall costs for the project. So if a Soil Test isn’t carried out prior to purchasing the land, later on issues could be revealed meaning you could end up with a budget blowout before you’ve even started the construction stage.

Being aware of any problems you may encounter will enable you to make vital decisions about the suitability of the land for building and determine the future costs and design before the process is in full motion.

For example

A client asked whether he needed to waste his money on a soil test for a block he was about to purchase. His reasoning was that this particular block had been developed 20 years prior and it was surrounded by existing houses that were built around that same time. His claim was that the developer would have done a soil test all those years ago to obtain a subdivision approval and that all the other surrounding homes were fine so why bother. Plus the Agent also made these exact points as well which swayed him to think this way.

It was a challenge, but he eventually accepted the advice and made the contract subject to a soil test. The soil test revealed that this block was one where the developer had dumped all the debris and rubble from the surrounding sites all those years ago. To build on this block would now mean that all the current toxic soil would have to be removed and re-filled with quality soil, compacted and then certified by a Soil Certifier.

On further inspection the client also obtained the original soil tests performed by the developer all those years ago which showed the soil tester only took a few samples of the soil and most of the tests were in the area of where the road was to be located. Only one soil test was taken from each residential block which is completely inadequate to determine whether the soil was satisfactory for housing a slab.

Lesson is, don’t get swayed by what the Agent says and what your eyes see. If you’re thinking about purchasing a property, for a small sum you can protect yourself in the early stages and save yourself a huge expense and budget blow out down the track. For most people this is possibly the largest investment of your life, so it’s worth investing wisely at the beginning.

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